Many people who grind their teeth do not have any consequences. Even if your sleeping partner is complaining about the noise you are making, only the dentist will be able to tell you with certainty if you suffer from bruxism and if your teeth grinding is affecting your teeth and jaws.
What the Dentist Needs to Know?
By thorough examination of your teeth, the dentist will be able to tell you the degree of damage your teeth have already sustained. He or she might be able to tell you if a missing tooth or teeth misalignment might be a possible cause for the teeth grinding. To help your dentist make a correct diagnosis, he will need your help. Prepare yourself for the visit to the dentist by noting down some relevant information:
- All the medication you are taking, including supplements and vitamins;
- Any health condition you have or you are aware of;
- All symptoms you are experiencing that might be linked to your teeth grinding, such as morning headache, pain in the jaw, neck and ears, slight fever etc.
- Make sure to tell your dentist if you are having trouble sleeping, if you habitually snore and if you are suffering from sleep apnea.
Based on the information you provided and the examination, your dentist might be able to tell you if the causes of your teeth grinding are not related to the state of your teeth and that are better addressed by your family doctor or sleep therapist.
What is Your Dentist Going to Ask You?
You need to work together with your dentist to find out the causes for your teeth grinding. Your dentist is likely going to ask you a number of questions that will help him or her come closer to the solution:
- How long have you been grinding your teeth?
- Are you grinding teeth all the time or just from time to time?
- Are your symptoms really bothering you?
- What are all the symptoms you think are related to your teeth grinding?
- Are there any situations that trigger teeth grinding?
- Is there anything that makes you feel better (medication, food, therapy)?
If the dentist is not asking any of this, it is up to you to provide the information. It also means that you should probably look for a dentist with more experience with teeth grinding.
What to Ask Your Dentist?
Like most doctors, dentists are busy so it is up to you to take the time with him or her in the most productive way. The questions you ask are important not only for your understanding of the teeth grinding, but also for determining real causes. Knowing the cause or causes will bring you one step closer to finding the cure.
- Why am I grinding my teeth?
- Is something wrong with my teeth?
- What are the common causes of teeth grinding?
- Is there a cure?
- How long does it take to stop me from teeth grinding?
- Is there something that will help me with pain and protect my teeth now?
- Are there any tests that will help find the cause for my teeth grinding?
- What specialist should I see?
- Could any of my other health condition be responsible for my teeth grinding?
- Does my dental insurance cover the costs of the treatment?
- How much should I expect to spend before my teeth grinding is cured?
- What are the common remedies?
- Are there any alternative therapies that help with teeth grinding?
- Can mouth guard cure teeth grinding?
- Where can I find more information?
Your dentist might not be able to answer all your questions and if he finds out that there are no signs of malocclusion (dental misalignment), the causes of your teeth grinding are probably better addressed by a sleep therapist or your family doctor.
Your dentist might need some time to do a number of tests to be sure that your teeth are not misaligned. In the meantime, you have to make sure that there is no further damage to your teeth. Your dentist will recommend a dental mouth guard. There are some good mouth guards available from your local drug store (check our review of the best mouth guards). While affordable, commercial guards are not the long-term solutions because they are often uncomfortable – they are made ‘one size fits all’. You dentist will suggest that you get the custom made mouth guard. Ask about the price. It might be far more expensive than most people are comfortable with. The alternative solution is to contact the mouth guard lab directly, bypassing your dentist, and save quite a lot of money. Check what Pro Teeth Guard has to offer.
Besides getting a mouth guard to protect your teeth while your dentist is trying to determine the cause of your bruxism, you should also try to eliminate some potential but common causes. Try staying away from stimulants such as caffeine and try to reduce stress in your life. Your dentist will tell you that the stress is by far the most common cause of teeth grinding.